Editorial: Could Samsung Be Forced to Lose Touchwiz Altogether?

The Apple vs. Samsung trial has been pressing forward for about a week now. Everyday it seems that readers (or attendees) have become the rope in an epic tug-of-war between mobile technology’s two biggest companies. Although the trial is said to be constituted on a series of infringements by Samsung of Apple’s intellectual property, it has turned to the “slavishly copying” aspect of the ordeal.

To clarify, instead of debating on whether or not Samsung does infringe on patents, or if Apple’s patents are even valid, the two are up in arms about whether or not Samsung copied Apple. Apple has been very good about presenting hard-pressing evidence against Samsung. On the other hand, Samsung has been pretty resilient as well. They have been able to successfully break down a couple of Apple’s “expert” witnesses, even questioning the credibility of some.

But in court today, it has been shown that Samsung, at the very least, based the entire Galaxy S concept off the iPhone. This may seem like an obvious statement, considering there was nothing really like the iPhone before the iPhone. However, Apple presented a 132-page document comparing Samsung’s current offerings (at the time) with the iPhone. In a case like this, this doesn’t look good for Sammy.

That being said, EVERY company does market research. It’s the only way to stay relevant in the fast-paced mobile market of today. In fact, without it, most companies may have been left in the dust a long time ago. So Samsung studied the iPhone, of course.

Because of this, the court seems to have pressed on to one particular issue: Touchwiz. Hardware issues aside, Apple seems to be gutting Touchwiz right-and-left. They even point out that one of Samsung’s leads stated the icons need to be “square with rounded corners and more glossy,” just like the iPhone.

To clarify, I am not an Apple fanboy. In fact, I’m Team Android/Samsung all the way. However, it’s pretty obvious to say Samsung did take some blatant notes from the iPhone. Perhaps going a little too far with it. Not many deny that there are similarities between the original Galaxy S and the iPhone; however, there are also many distinct differences, which would hint a customer off pretty quickly that they were not purchasing an iPhone. Apple believe that customers were genuinely confusing the two products leading customers to purchase a Galaxy instead of an iPhone.

But as the trial rolls on, it becomes increasingly clear that Apple is out to obliterate Touchwiz as a blatant iOS copy. In fact, the Android OS itself has rarely been brought up at all, making this trial more realistic that Apple only wants Samsung (for now).

This got me thinking.

Samsung is the largest cellphone manufacturer in the world. Hypothetically, even if they lose this case, they won’t just lose their reign that easily. However, if the court decides for whatever reason that Touchwiz is a huge violator here, Sammy may be forced to ditch it altogether. Which brings up an interesting idea: would Samsung go stock Android?

The idea seems almost too good to be true. The Android OS itself hasn’t received many of the lawsuits from Apple, Microsoft being a whole other story. Thermonuclear comments aside, Apple has mainly gone after hardware copying and features found in the skins of OEMs. So if the largest Android manufacturer in the world was forced to give up its beloved Touchwiz, it could continue its reign as the largest Android manufacturer, literally. 

Stock Jelly Bean is a fantastic OS, I’ve used it personally since it was announced and I can’t see myself going back to any skin, at least for now. And whether or not you personally like Samsung’s hardware, they generally do perform quite well. The Galaxy S III is still hailed as the greatest Android phone ever built. As the largest Android OEM, Google wouldn’t complain for a second if Sammy became the largest stock OEM.

Google has clearly differentiated Android from iOS in nearly every way. Icons are not squares, a whole desktop arrangement process, notification drawer and widgets, just to name a few, make Android its own OS. Samsung, with its reputation, could easily bank on this, as many people have started to realize Android’s potential anyway (many unaware that their are different versions of Android at all).

I, for one, could see the benefits no matter how this trial ends for Samsung. I don’t believe Apple should win, but their lawyers know what they’re doing. Then again, so do Samsung’s.

So I ask you guys, do you think Sammy could continue their reign if they only used stock Android? Perhaps no skinning, just adding features to the OS for differentiation? I want to know what you guys think about this whole issue.


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